5 ways to keep gender bias out of your career journey

March 26, 2024
Workplace flexibility

“In my previous jobs, I was often passed over for promotion. The roles went to men, who were less qualified. The gender bias was obvious, it wasn’t hidden. As the only woman in the team, I had to work twice as hard, the playing field certainly wasn’t even.”

Thankfully, at Steadfast, things are VERY different for Julie Lumbis.

As Head of Steadfast Client Trading Platforms, Julie is now passionate about encouraging and supporting other women into leadership roles. Through championing and celebrating the achievements of women across the company, she hopes to create an environment where women can aim high and reach their full potential. We asked Julie to share her top tips for achieving more equality in the workplace.

“The world is changing and being a woman is no longer the barrier it once was. But you must back yourself. You’re more than capable and what you don’t know, you’ll learn, so don’t wait to apply for a role until you are fully qualified – go for it!”

1. Find an employer that builds your confidence

When Julie was starting out in her career, she says she often held herself back and felt unable to advance as quickly as her male counterparts. She lacked confidence in her abilities because her employer didn’t support her career development.

“In my twenties and thirties, the organizations I worked in were very clearly boys’ clubs and I knew a number of managers who didn’t look beyond my male colleagues. At Steadfast, I am evaluated equally. 

“It’s a culture where you are valued for the skills you bring. I’ve always felt supported and know I can be myself.” 

Julie says nothing compares with working at a company that actively wants you to succeed, and at the heart of this lies mutual trust. Julie’s current role often requires her to “take educated risks, to take a leap of faith and to follow my gut,” and Steadfast gives her the space to do just that.

Workplace flexibility

Steadfast is an organization that empowers me to get the job done and allows me to grow as an individual and perform at my best.” 

Steadfast recognizes that flexible working can bring out the very best in its employees.

Check out its impressive range of flexible working options and other employee benefits.

2. Start appreciating your whole self

We are all far more than our day job, and Julie says it’s important that companies start to recognize and appreciate employees’ lives outside of work too, and the demands we each face on our time. As a working parent, Julie knows that juggling all those expectations can be tough. When her own children were small, she says she didn’t have much support from her employer at the time. There were limited flexible working opportunities available with no options to work from home or job share positions.

“Taking time out to raise children used to be seen as you not being serious about your career, and it was a major setback in your progress. 

“Since COVID-19, people know that flexibility can work. Old attitudes have finally been disproved and I think it’s fabulous we can now support those who choose to have a family. I’m grateful to work for a company that takes the contribution from its whole workforce seriously, where the opportunity for all is equal, regardless of gender.”  

3. Work to your strengths

Although Julie never thought she’d work in insurance, she encourages people to think beyond their preconceptions of the industry as it’s not what you might expect!

Workplace flexibility

“People have no idea how varied and interesting a career in insurance can be. Before I worked in insurance, I didn’t really know what the industry was about, or that it would provide me with such a fantastic career – I love it!”

But perhaps it’s not such a surprise that Julie has found herself a fulfilling and satisfying career first as an underwriter and now as a broker. As a self-confessed “jigsaw tragic,” Julie loves nothing more than solving complicated puzzles in her spare time! 

“I love a good 5000-piece jigsaw – and solving problems and finding solutions are imperative in my professional role today.”

Julie’s early career as an underwriter allowed her to work with a wide cross-section of clients in different industries with many varied needs. Building on this experience, she side-stepped into a broker role, which is where she found her calling.

“I swapped from underwriting to brokering fifteen years ago, and having a background in both means I can bring both of those needs together for our clients. My first role at Steadfast was the role I have now, but it is constantly evolving as we build on and improve the products and relationships we already have.”

4. Keep championing other women

Having faced challenges in her career “purely because of gender,” Julie is keen that young women coming into the workforce don’t experience the same obstacles she did. Through attending courses, workshops and social events, Julie has established a network of women who can “call on each other” whenever they need, and who “raise each other’s profiles” across the company.

“I’m passionate about making sure women feel supported in the workplace, and it inspires me every day to be part of a female cohort that comes together to help and celebrate each other and our achievements.”

5. Most importantly: back yourself!

Julie acknowledges that although it can be hard to talk about your own achievements it’s so important to speak up and get your voice heard. It’s what can make all the difference when it comes to your career. 

a photo of julie lumbis

“It can be uncomfortable talking about yourself, but it’s half the battle with ensuring we promote women. So back yourself! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at Steadfast?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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